“I suspect that when modern Americans ask “what is sacred” they are really asking “what place is mine? what community to I belong to? …We are seeking the tribal, anything with strong communal values and traditions. But all too often we’re trying to do it on our own, as individuals.”
“Fear is not a bad place to start a spiritual journey. If you know what makes you afraid, you can see more clearly that the way out is through the fear.” ~ Kathleen Norris, Dakota
Three weeks living alone, a 30 minute drive from town, in mostly dark, drenching rainy days, reinforced how bad I am at fixing and eating a healthy meal alone at the end of the day, and how much I miss having come in the back door friends and family. I miss ongoing conversations ranting and raving about politics as well as rational dialogue. After a few days alone I drew further and further into myself wondering how crazy am I to have walked out of a mostly comfortable, at least familiar way and place. (Admitting this to my spiritual director is when he advised “read Dakota again.”)
Lying awake at 3:00 AM I began to review all the times I’ve lived with others. When I first began working full-time away from home as a lobbyist and a dial-a-mom, I lived in a big house with a group of guys. Sometimes we fixed meals together, and always had noisy card games and political conversations late into the night. A family with a young child moved in. We shared real child play and care; we women cleaned up the bathroom and kitchen, laughing a lot and sharing sorrows too.
Eventually I moved to another rented house where my daughter joined me to make it a home. A number of moves followed, joined by daughters and sons, and a growing tribe of friends, until I married again and moved into the house owned by my new husband.
I’ve never owned my own house – my husbands owned our houses and I turned them into homes filled with with family and friends. Through moves to Pennsylvania and finally Saipan, women friends, old and new woven tightly into my heart, sustained me. So, I’m not surprised that I am longing for a community of women sharing resources – the kind of living that fills my heart and soul and mind.
Dog sitting ended. I’m regrouping at Matt and Fionas’. Zebbie, almost 6, in my life most days since his birth, still new to all day school, is trying to figure out all our changes. He crawled into bed with me this morning, his arms full of (stuffed) animals. He asked, “Are you done dog sitting?” “Yes.” “Well, I miss Roxy.” After a few hugs he crawled under the covers with an animal and said, “let’s play hide and seek.” He continues to teach “Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world.” ~Trungpa Rinpoche
In an article titled The Buddha on Food Stamps, Joan Witacre who became one of my teachers via her article, writes, “Where did my courage come from? …The decision to enter a new phase of life arose in me without pre-planning, rather than that I made the decision rationally. I recognized and felt that the established structures of my life were slipping away. I surrendered to rather than struggled against this flow of changing circumstances, this uncertain, new reality.” ~ Joan Whitacre